Friday, August 10, 2012
Taking Evil Seriously—Part III: Systemic Evil
WARNING: This installment definitely contains some Dark Knight Rises spoilers. If you’ve not seen the film yet, continue at your own risk.
Not only is each of the individual villains in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy competent and dangerous foes for Batman, the films also do a good job portraying the insidious nature of systemic evil.
When evil is allowed to infiltrate a system long enough and goes unchecked, it can have devastating consequences for society. Before we know it, the entire infrastructure becomes corrupt and corroded, and vulnerable to attack. If someone provides a “spark,” the system may collapse on itself.
In Dark Knight Rises, Bane provided just that “spark.” His League of Shadows managed to mix explosives into concrete. For months, even years, every public works project intended to “build up” the city was unwittingly laying the trap that would tear it apart—when the time was right.
Propped up by the false martyrdom of Harvey Dent, Gotham City was lulled into a false sense of security. They thought good had won once and for all and they let their guard down; they became complacent and stopped taking evil seriously. Evil counts on that complacency inevitably creeping in. Evil is patient, willing to lurk in the shadows for years, if that’s what it takes—but sooner or later, it rises again, stronger than ever. In Dark Knight Rises, the new evil in Gotham literally rises from the sewers.
When Bane finally “goes public” and people realize that there’s a problem, it’s already too late to stop his sinister plot. The trap is already loaded and ready to be sprung; the infrastructure is already “compromised” and “contaminated” with evil. With a single push of a button, Bane literally crumbles the city’s entire physical infrastructure, imprisoning most of the city’s police officers underground, and throwing the people into panic.
And of course, people who are afraid can easily be emotionally and psychologically manipulated. To further fan the flames, Bane lets them know that their peace has been built on a lie. Harvey Dent is not the man they thought he was. Prisoners, many of whom were arrested as a result of Dent’s legacy, were set free to roam the streets and class warfare raged in the streets. A reign of terror followed with Jonathon Crane (a.k.a., Scarecrow from Batman Begins) presiding over a “kangaroo court” and dispensing “justice” on Gotham’s rich and powerful. Evil was running rampant in Gotham. Could anyone stop this?!
Of course, in the end Batman does stop Bane—with a few surprises along the way that I won’t disclose J. But my point here is this:
Gotham didn’t take evil seriously and they paid a terrible price.
Next: Lessons for Christ-followers